Today, we finished our stay in Tennessee this trip.
I-75 was, as always, a difficult highway to travel. There was quite a bit of construction and we were traveling at less than 10 mph for miles and miles. So the 1.5 hour trip was instead a 3 hour trip.
Just an overnight stop tonight and then on to Salvisa, KY where we will be for a week and have access to several of the Bourbon Trail Distilleries. The RV park is known for not having any cell service. We will see if our booster gives us enough to make a phone call or not.
Today we drove up to Norris Lake to take a hike. The lake is pretty and the weather was great.
Our hike is supposed to be about 4 miles and an elevation change of about 680 feet. We did get some good views of the lake and many times we were looking far down a steep hillside to it.
We did see some wildlife, a couple of squirrels and chipmunks. They were fast so it was hard to get a picture.
There were two deer. One was very curious about us and may have had a fawn nearby.
Some of the trail was very steep and at one point had a long series of steps.
Some how I missed taking a picture of "Kerry's Revenge". It was a warning sign that the next section was VERY steep and there were not kidding. You know a trail is steep when you have to walk sideways to keep from slipping.
A BEAR !!! Well, no, but it looked like one from a distance. I think that this tree is in trouble because something like that can not be good.
These flowers were falling from high in the tree tops of the tulip popular trees.
It was a good hike.
We just have two things planned for today. One driving the Foothills Parkway and visiting the local winery.
The parkway is part of the Great Smoky Mountains Park. It reminded us of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is very popular with sport car and motorcycle riders. Lots of curves but we were there for the overlooks.
Time for a wine tasting.
Tomorrow, we move to the northwest leaving the Smokies.
Things are a bit busy in town because of the Bigfoot Festival. I don't think anyone thinks that bigfoot is real much less supposed to be anywhere near here but when you have a slow weekend towns will come up with something to attract tourists. Traffic is at least 10x what it was the day before so we decided to go get lunch at a local restaurant.
The Abbey not only had good food but the atmosphere was very different.
We did get a pair of bigfoot visitors who walked around posing for pictures.
We have not hiked for weeks. Today we decided to take a "short" hike in the park. The hike is about 5 miles round trip and an elevation gain of just over 600 feet. Finley Cane Trail crosses several small streams.
We did not find much in the way of animals but we did find a snake.
There were several very brightly colored bugs.
There were some big plants, lots of trees, and a few flowers.
We did find some sign of bears but did not see one the entire hike. There was a pile of bear scat on the trail. At one point we heard something moving in the top of the trees over the trail but never did see what it was just that it kept breaking limbs. Bear maybe? or the biggest squirrel ever.
Today, we moved to Townsend, Tennessee after stopping for 1 night at the Silver Spring Vineyards in Riceville, Tennessee. Our spot at the RV park is between the river and the splash pad.
The Cove has been used by many people over the years. It is known that different native tribes have hunted in the cove no evidence has been found of a long term occupation. In the early 1800s, settlers came to the area and cleared land for fields and build log cabins. At its maximum, the cove had 685 residents but that did not hold for very many years.
When the park was created in 1934 the remaining residents were allowed to live in the cove but had to live by strict rules set by the park. Most sold out and left the park instead of living under the rules. As each that did stay passed away their land was transferred to the parks service control. The last original resident died in 1999.
Everything we have read says that the best time to visit Cades Cove is in the afternoon. Traffic in the morning is supposed to be awful with the 11 mile drive taking over 4 hours.
We found out that depending on animal "road blocks" even in the afternoon is can be a very slow drive. Soon after we started the one way loop, everyone came to a stop. It took over an hour to travel 2 miles. Pull up 10 feet then stop for a minute or two then pull up 10 feet. There were several horses in a pasture near the road and a few turkeys.
We found out later that the roadblock was from a small herd of deer that was standing on and just off the road. By the time we got to that spot, they were so far out in the woods we could barely see them. We decided to get away from the crowds and took a side road to one of the churches in the valley.
Once we got past that roadblock we did get to see some wildlife. First was a bear. Yes, a bear was off... off...off the road. It was so far of the road that it was hard to identify without looking with the cameras telephoto on maximum magnification.
While I was trying to get a picture or two, Shawna took some pictures of another of the churches and some flowers.
We had our second bear encounter a few minutes later. This one was very close to the road.
Pretty view of the Cove. Then on to the visitor center which has one of the largest homestead sites.
The homestead contains a home built in 1879, a Blacksmith Shop, Cantilever Barn, Flume and Grist Mill, Smokehouse, Corn Crib, Cane Mill with Sorghum Furnace, and Barn.
On the drive out of the cove, we passed several more homesteads and a few deer..
We arrived at the cove at 2:00pm and after a hour spent going 2 of the 11 miles and then finished the loop at 6:00pm. WOW! Now the 38 minute drive back to the campground that is only 14 miles away. Curvy mountain two-lane roads with speed limits of 25 to 35 for 6 of the miles back.
We are headed north through Alabama. Our plan is to get to the Smoky Mountains to hike. To get through to Tennessee, we will stop 3 times in Alabama. We do not move far per day. Usually less than 130 miles or about 2 hours driving time.
Our plan is coming together but this is what we have so far this Summer. Of course, everything is always up for change.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...